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BCC Ruling No. 97-52-594

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #97-52-594

IN THE MATTER OF Subsection 24 (1) of the Building Code Act, 1992.

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article 3.4.6.4. of "the Building Code" (Ontario Regulation 419/89 as amended by Ont. Reg. 183/88, 581/88, 11/89 and 115/89).

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Dennis Meret, Vice President, Village Grove (1995) Inc., 181-13300 Tecumseh Road East, Tecumseh, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Michael Voegeli, Chief Building Official, Village of St. Clair Beach, Ontario, concerning whether the proposed front door steps are exit stairs requiring handrails under Article 3.4.6.4. of the Ontario Building Code at Jason Court Townhomes Condominiums (south side), 309-395 Jason Court, Village of St. Clair Beach, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Mr. Dennis Meret, Vice President
Village Grove (1995) Inc.
181-13300 Tecumseh Road East
Tecumseh, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Michael Voegeli
Chief Building Official
Village of St. Clair Beach

PANEL

Mr. Roy Philippe (Chair)
Mr. Rick Florio
Mr. Douglas Clancey

PLACE

Toronto and Windsor, Ontario

DATE OF RULING

Thursday, November 13th, 1997

APPEARANCES

Mr. Vijay Vasantgadkar
Vijay Vasantgadkar
Architect
Windsor, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Dennis Meret, Vice President
Village Grove (1995) Inc.
Tecumseh, Ontario
The Applicant

Mr. Michael Voegeli
Chief Building Official
Village of St. Clair Beach
The Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Dennis Meret, Vice President, Village Grove (1995) Inc., 181-13300 Tecumseh Road East, Tecumseh, Ontario was issued a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct 17 new low rise residential townhouse condominium at 309-395 Jason Court, Village of St. Clair Beach, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant proposes to construct 17 one storey, two bedroom, townhouse condominiums, as part of a larger residential condominium project. The 17 units are grouped into three buildings, two containing six units and the other with five units. The aggregate size of the buildings, approximately 995 m2, meant they were constructed according to Part 3 of the Building Code. The buildings are classified as Group C - residential. They are constructed of combustible construction.

As the subject units are a single storey, only two steps are required at the front entrance door. The Applicant proposes to not provide handrails for these stairs. This would be consistent with other buildings in this project that were constructed under Part 9, and were not required to provide handrails.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and the Respondent is whether the proposed front door steps are exit stairs and should be required to provide handrails under Article 3.4.6.4. of the OBC. Article 3.4.6.4. sets out the requirements for handrails.

It states that every exit ramp or stairway must have a handrail.

  1. Provisions of the Building Code

3.4.6.4. Handrails

(1) Every exit ramp or stairway shall have a handrail on atleast one side, and where 1 100 mm (3 ft 7 in) or more in width, shall have handrails on both sides.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the proposed exiting stairs, without a handrail, meets the intent of the Code. It is their interpretation that the subject front door steps are not designated as exit stairs under the OBC and therefore handrails are required. They note that the units in question are only required to provide handrails since the size of the buildings made it necessary to build under Part 3. As a comparison, they point to other townhouses (the north side of Jason Court) also constructed at this site which were built to the standards under Part 9. Despite the fact that the north side units contain three bedrooms, meaning potentially more occupants per unit, and also have only two stairs at the front door, they are not required to have handrails.

In their view, Part 3 of the Building Code is intended for areas used extensively by the general public. Since these are private residential townhouses, the Applicant argues that the Part 3 handrail requirement is not necessary.

Further, they note that from a practical standpoint the subject stairs only contain two steps. The total height, including the step from the landing to grade-level of the unit, is well below the 600 mm height difference allowed under Part 9 of the Code before a railing is required.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the subject exit lacks the required handrails and thus does not meet Article 3.4.6.4. of the Code. In their interpretation, the landing and stairs serving these exit doors should be regarded as exit stairs since they provide a means of egress from the floor area they serve. They feel that the subject stairs are used by the public, as well as the unit's occupants. As a result, they conclude that the full Part 3 standards should apply. This includes the requirements for handrails as well as guards.

The Respondent notes that they do not have the authority to waive or vary from the requirements of the OBC.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that front door steps which are part of the exit serving each dwelling unit provide sufficiency of compliance with Articles 3.4.6.4., of the Building Code provided they satisfy the requirements of sentences 9.8.7.1.(2) and 9.8.8.1.(1) of the Building Code.

  1. Reasons

i) It is the opinion of the Building Code Commission that although the building area requires the building to comply with Part 3 of the Building Code, the degree of safety achieved through Part 9 building requirements for handrails and guards would not be reduced in this application.

ii) Each dwelling unit has it's own exit and does not share individual stairs, or steps.

iii) The difference in elevation between the landing and grade is less than 20".

Dated at Toronto this 13th day in the month of November in the year 1997 for application number 1997-60.

Roy Philippe, Chair

Rick Florio

Douglas Clancey